My guest for The Happy Hour #375 is Ross Lester. Ross is the Pastor of Preaching at The Austin Stone Community Church. He is originally from South Africa, and has now been in the states for three years with his wife, Sue and children.

I’m so thankful for Ross’ voice and his perspective on the world as a Christ follower who grew up overseas. In today’s episode, we talk about the American Church vs. American Culture, and his experience of learning what it looks like to be a pastor in the states through an international lens. Ross also dives into the problem of Christian nationalism, and lays out 10 signs of it at play. It’s not an easy or comfortable thing to talk about, but it’s so important to address as followers of Christ and be aware of what we put our faith into. Ross says, “the problem with Christian nationalism is that it is framed as a culture war, rather than a call to follow Jesus.” Oof. What I respect most about Ross is that he knows the potential cost of speaking on these topics, but knows his calling to obey and honor Christ is so much greater.


Signs of Christian Nationalism at Play:

*Note – This is a trimmed down version of Ross’ notes. For the full context and notes, make sure you listen to the episode!


  1. See nation as central and indeed essential to God’s redemptive plans in the world.
  2. Strong US vs. THEM posture.
  3. The Christianity it speaks of is more obsessed with a culture than it is with Christ.
  4. The culture that it desires is often a deceit of history, and when examined, often strongly linked (implicitly or explicitly) with segregation, oppression & injustice against many for the flourishing of society.
  5. It uses iconography of the cross, but has contempt for the way of the cross.
  6. As a result of the above, it justifies and indeed glorifies leadership that are anything like Jesus, but then have to pretend that those leaders are doing Jesus’ bidding in the world, and so are excused.
  7. A strong affinity and identity with OT Israel, as if (in this instance) American Christians are the elect people of God, attempting to build – or rebuild – a temple for God’s habitation in the world.
  8. National righteousness and flourishing (because of the above) is then seen as purity as the marker for faithfulness, leading to people being more concerned with sexual and outwardly moral purity on a national level than with issues like justice, fairness and reputation of kindness.
  9. Hugely selective bible quoting for advance for the ideology, which can result in the bible being used as a mic-dropping tool of power and assertion rather than the living Word of God.
  10. A victim mentality based on conspiratorial thinking


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Jamie Ivey